Safety First


In the 25 plus years that I have been practicing structural engineering, I have never thought of it as a glamorous profession but as a rewarding profession. There is nothing wrong with feeling pride for the shopping center you helped design, that new school, affordable housing project, or pipe trestle for an industrial giant. But the first and foremost reason we have been entrusted to design your project is the knowledge that those using the facility, once it is occupied, will be safe and secure.

But when it comes to life safety issues, our designs need to “with stand the test of time” as they would say. Over the course of my career I have heard of many building failures around the city, country and world. Some of these failures have caused injury and some have caused death. Other building failures ended up putting an economic burden on the owner. We all want to get paid for the services we provide to our clients, but to cut corners in order to save a dime here and there is unacceptable and a poor design. From the other perspective, we do not want to run the cost of our design into the next universe. If we are not considering the life safety issues in order to procure a glamorous design then our profession is tainted and we need to re-evaluate the reason we do structural engineering.

Yes it is rewarding. Even though we design the “skeleton” of the building and the architect designs the artistic features that cover our work, it is rewarding to know that these building, retaining walls, trestles and so on, will be safe for the public or the workers to work in or leisurely enjoy.


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